Closing Time

It’s official…actually it’s been official for a week this past Monday. We finally closed escrow on a new home built by DeNova Homes out of Concord, CA. What started out as wonderful buying experience has turned into a new home nightmare, as much of the finishing work lacked detail, care and craftsmanship. Some I have spoke with have referred to it as “punch list material.” As mentioned in the prior update, we had two pre-purchase inspections with the warranty manager, which honestly didn’t yield the results we were anticipating, but decided to close escrow, as we were running up against getting out of our rental.

mone_pit_holeWhile DeNova Homes hasn’t sunk to the level of KB Homes (yet), I am prepared to speak of them in the same breath, especially after the purchase of our first “money pit” in 2004, which had me feeling helpless, much like Walter Fielding stuck in the floor, from the 1986 movie, The Money Pit. Unfortunately I am not singing the Name Game to pass the time. After I sent scathing e-mail in response to their “welcome e-mail” we have a laundry list of items that need attention. Currently my wife and I are very disappointed when we should be elated to be in a new home.

All the blue tape set by my wife during our initial walk through, the ongoing discussions with the sales representatives, the construction superintendent didn’t yield the results we had anticipated. After our move in, my wife was finding pieces of blue tape, balled up in drawers, on the floor that once represented a flaw in the finishing. I need to step back for a moment and remind myself, this is NOT a custom house and I am not paying a premier price. If I were quality and craftsmanship would be much higher and the builder I hired would have take care and time. These developments are constructed quickly with the bottom line to sell and start making money on them.

The more we settled in, the more flaw came to the forefront of our new purchase. This before we had ANY furniture in the house. Movers did not ding the marks we identified and sent to DeNova Homes for “discussion” over by their management team. What really gets me is, the fact we can’t be the first of four families to run into this problem. Maybe we were so enamored with the purchase of a house we loved that we went a bit too fast in the buying process and should have taken a step back and forced DeNova’s hand in correctly outstanding problems.

Thankfully we have a document signed by the warranty manager that identifies two major and many minor problems through out the house. As of Wednesday, we met Carlos, dispatched by DeNova Homes to repair our problems. Unfortunately, when he arrived at our house on Wednesday, there was very little work he could accomplish for a few reasons. First, we had just completed our move and had not open and stored all our belongings, so many of the areas in question were not accessible. Second, the amount of flaws my wife showed Carlos had him call his boss for further discussion. The decision was made and Carlos was going to return before the 30 day warranty period with a crew to repair our home.

We have kept in touch with our realtor, John Canning of Canning Dreams Homes, who has gone above and beyond our expectations and continues to stand by our side as we force the issues with a houseful of problems. My wife called a sales director earlier this, as well as taking to social media in order to get something done. Needless to say the Twitter responses were of a canned variety, “Per Our Conversation, someone will be at your home tomorrow &Thursday to resolve your concerns. See you tomorrow!” Not surprising, really. After the tweets by my wife, I sent our first service request to DeNova that included 48 images of flaws, along with text about each, none of which we find acceptable in a new home, some are very glaring problems. Will they be repaired? Don’t know, time will tell.

Second Time’s a Charm

In a manner of speaking, the second walk through of our new DeNova Homes, should have been finished to this level of quality. If it were, chances are there would have been few complaints on our part and no phone calls to directors and people above those we have had to deal with. That still does not take away from the fact the master bathroom is unacceptable. The level of craftsmanship is no better than poor I would like to think that anyone who didn’t upgrade their master bathroom to tile would stick to their guns like we have in hopes of resolving this problem.

As we did a few days ago, we met Kevin, the Warranty Manager at our new home at Emerson Ranch, in Oakley. As an aside, I still won’t recommend anyone to purchase a home from this at this point until I see them follow through with our home, which might possible change my opinion of them. But currently, they really don’t rank much higher than KB Homes and the snafu we have had with broken pipes in the last two homes we have owned in Oakley.

With Kevin in tow, we began walking the home again, it was amazing to see many of the original issues dealt with. You could tell new paint had been laid, as we walked up our “upgraded” front door was being painted. I really only had two issues, both of which I considered major in nature and I knew neither had been taken care of correctly. The only way the master bathroom becomes satisfactory is to tile the walls, anything less, at this point is unacceptable.

The newel post at the top of the stairs had been worked on again, but the post is still not straight some more bondo and another coat of paint. Maybe, as our realtor said a few days ago, if we would have see it we would have been okay with it. But knowing what it looked like originally and the work they have done, a new post is the only way I will be happy with the banister. Maybe that makes me an asshole for not giving in on these two items alone, but with the price we are spending and the quality of the house, things need to be up to a standard before the house is presented to us, the buyer. It wasn’t, so we got out the fine toothed comb and went through the remainder of the house nothing every little discrepancy. Why not?

While there were still many imperfections, mostly in the paint my wife was more pleased today than she was two days ago. Still Kevin was madly taking notes of items to pass along that required attention. The list was nowhere near as long, but still some items were left outstanding that my wife and I agreed upon needed attention. When you start throwing around not closing and withholding funds, along with phone calls to the higher level people at DeNova shit started to get done. But did it ever need to come to this?

I am very thankful we retained a realtor through this entire process, with John Canning of Canning Dream Homes, I am not sure we would have been as tenacious as he was. He wanted to make things right and in my opinion has gone above an beyond as our realtor to get us what we want and more importantly to see us happy in our new “dream home.” We had a good realtor when we purchased our first home, but this time around I believe we have gained a friend based solely on John’s dedication to make things right.

As the walk through continued my wife pointed out areas that were still unacceptable, meaning someone pulled the blue paint tape and never fix that item, as there were quite a few of those. I am thankful I took pictures of all the tape, as I was walking room to room, mobile phone in hand comparing the picture to the home. While I won’t say I was 100% pleased, the finishing was an improvement. If and when we close, there will still be walls to touch up with paint or even window sills that went unpainted, believe it or not. How this gets past quality control is beyond me.

There is still a considerable amount of work to be done IF we plan on closing escrow on Friday and picking up keys to our new home. Even after that, we will still have 90 days to report items that don’t meet our standards and we will be dealing with Kevin again to make it right. With any luck we will be moved in by the middle of next week and will start tagging items on that warranty list.